The Van Slyke Castle


I promised myself that I would go hiking at least twice a month, thinking it would be a quick fix while I awaited the sweet release of another trip abroad. I had only been on a few trails, so I was still very new to the hiking world.


So this was very reassuring.

The first twenty minutes of my hike were spent making as much noise as possible, kicking rocks, jangling my keys in my pocket, and whistling. I searched the patterns of the forest for any variations that might kill me.

Not a Bear

Not a bear

I thought about turning back, but I was on a mission. After twenty minutes I was used to being in a place where no one can hear me scream, and I started to appreciate my surroundings.





I eventually arrived at my destination – The Van Slyke Castle.

Beam and Chimney

Built in 1909, the Van Slyke Castle, also known as the Oakland Castle or Foxcroft, was the vacation home of Wall Street man William Porter.

One night in 1911, Porter and a bunch of friends decided to throw a party before his wife, Ruth Halliwell Porter, came back from a trip on the Lusitania. On the way back to NYC, they got into a car accident that led to Porter’s death.

Ruth ended up staying in the house the longest. She died in the home in 1940, after which the home went to a couple going through a divorce. It was later abandoned until it was destroyed in a fire in 1959. In 1976, the state bought the surrounding property to make Ramapo Mountain State Forest, making it accessible to the public.


Burnt wooden beams 


Inside the property

They even had a pool!



A pipe leads further up the mountain to a cistern, still in good condition.


I was glad I overcame my fears because it was the best trail I have been on so far. Despite some graffiti, it looked as if people hadn’t been there in a long time. It felt like I had stepped into another world.